Like it or hate it everyone has been talking about the KOMO News piece “Seattle is Dying”. Rather than dealing with the issues of drug addiction and mental illness shown in the video, opponents of the video have instead retained Pyramid Communications to organize a counter narrative PR strategy.

Last year, I was asked to find a solution to the many drug addicts, prostitutes, and campers that had caused close to $300,000 in damage to Seattle Jewish Cemeteries. The grounds keepers had been attacked and even pricked by discarded needles. City officials ignored our calls, emails, and public testimony. I responded with a media awareness campaign to solve the problem.

The drug epidemic has taken over Seattle. The City Council has turned their back on finding crucial data-based solutions. Instead, throwing away an estimated one billion of taxpayer’s dollars last year alone on failed policies. Real treatment options must be implemented to finally help those suffering on the streets. All while maintaining the objective to transition people out of homelessness by helping them find jobs and providing other needed services. Real actions that protect neighborhoods while at the same time focusing on the needs of those living on the streets, not enabling more drug use.

Families no longer want to bring their children to local parks the city spent millions building due to the dangers brought by encampments right next door. Take South Lake Union for instance. Crime in the area was at an all-time low, Denny Park newly renovated by the city. Then, the Seattle City Council supported the opening of the South Lake Union Encampment. Now, not only has Denny Park become an extension to the low-barrier shack encampment, the encampment has managed to magnify every problem imaginable.

Drug dealing and prostitution in and around encampments such as South Lake Union has been irrefutably enabled by the Seattle City Council’s failed policies. Now, assaults and attacks on the citizens are on the rise. Stores in downtown Seattle are being robed with so regularity that some are closing and moving to other cities. Despite countless attempts to stop this activity by involving local law enforcement, the illicit behavior continues due to the city council stripping the police force of any authority they once had over instances such as these. 

Under current city policy, people are permitted to have up to three grams of narcotics on their persons. Heroin, methamphetamine, you name it. The City Prosecutor has made it very clear that he will not prosecute these crimes. Judges select “diversion” programs to felons with multiple convictions. In addition to being able to possess the drugs, encampments like the one in South Lake Union do not enforce any sobriety requirements to stay in the encampment. Resulting in heavy concentrations of drug use in the encampments that inevitably attracts drug dealers from all over the city.

Since the KOMO video aired, Seattle has become a cautionary tale and I have become a target. I came forward with the truth behind what is happening to the cemeteries in Seattle and because of that, I have been demonized by both elected officials and by those who hide behind their online anonymity alike. Meanwhile, people are suffering on our city’s streets. “Seattle is Dying” has destroyed the Seattle City Council’s narrative that this is only a homeless crisis, not what it actually is: a drug and mental health crisis. Seattle’s growing crime rate is proof alone the City Council needs to invest in successful programs rather than continuing to throw good money on failed agencies and programs. One billion dollars later spent on homelessness alone, and the problem has only gotten worse. As a city we must strive for permanent solutions to drug addiction, mental illness, and housing affordability. Not temporary solutions that only sink us deeper into the current epidemic we are in, before we lose sight of any way out.

From a very young age Ari Hoffman volunteered much of his time with local youth. Ari met his future wife Jessica while attending Yeshiva University, located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. In 2004, following school, Ari and Jessica moved to Jessica’s hometown of Seattle, to the Seward Park neighborhood of Seattle where she was raised. Ari started Lion Logistics, a property management and construction company. Ari lives in District 2, where he and Jessica raise their 3 children, and where he works and employs people from all over the city.